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Everyone thought New Zealand was an island. Researchers say it’s the tip of a ‘hidden continent.’

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New Zealand has been in the news frequently since the election of Donald Trump. Many of the soon-to-be ex-pats are eyeing the remote and mountainous region as an option for relocation. Yet the island nation is in the news again. It turns out this island may not be an island at all.

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The island is two-thirds the size of Australia and ranges more than a thousand miles from Savage Seamount across Three Kings Ridge. The place is a hodgepodge of swamps, forest, volcanoes, mountains, and slopes.

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New Zealand has a small population that have settled on the mountain tops of the islands. However, the rest of the 2 million square miles can be found beneath the Pacific Ocean. Many scientists continue to argue that Zealandia is “Earth’s hidden continent”.

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One of the researchers state in a recent study in the Geological Society of America’s Journal, “The large and the obvious in natural science can be overlooked.” Zealandia is made up of New Zealand and the island of New Caledonia about 1,500 miles north.

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New Zealand or Zealandia has never been recognized as a continent, but researchers say that it could have been recognized immediately if Earth’s peaks and valleys “had first been mapped in the same way as those of Mars and Venus.”

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Lead author, Nick Mortimer, who is also a New Zealand government geologies, told Reuters in an interview,  “If we could pull the plug on the oceans it would be clear to everyone we have mountain chains and a big high-standing continent above the ocean crust.”

Unfortunately, Zealandia has been disregarded for decades according to researchers “as an amalgam of continental fragments and slivers” – which is referring to the destruction of the prehistoric supercontinent, Gondwana, that was obliterated during the time of dinosaurs. From the aftermath, we have the continents of Africa, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.

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Researchers are left wondering why Zealandia has not been classified as a continent as it meets all the specifications. They also can’t use the excuse that they can’t tell for sure as technology has come a long way. Some of the researchers state this saying, “The accuracy and precision of seafloor mapping have improved greatly over the past decades.” Zealandia meets the definition of a continent – a large mass that is separate from the ocean.

Now, you might be saying, “Why are they so stuck on making it a continent? It’s just a name”. However, it is more than that and would allow us to learn more about a continent that is extremely different than anything we’ve ever handled before. There is a world beneath our feet that we don’t even know about and it’s calling our names.

h/t Washington Post